Last weekend I had a very unique experience; Sunday morning I am sitting outside in the back yard drinking my coffee and journaling. Suddenly I hear a whooping sound and a squirrel lands a meter away from me, under the tree. I am shocked, I have never seen a squirrel falling from a tree before…
As I stare at him, thinking a) OMG and b) he may have broken his back, he turns his body and puts himself in a different position where he kind of settles. He has a little outgrowth on the side facing up and fur is missing.
He stretches his body, first his back legs, then his front legs (now I know he has not broken his back) takes a deep breath, his chest rises, then he lifts his head as if he is stretching his neck, and puts it back down. It is as if he makes himself comfortable all the way around. Then, there is no movement, no breathing.
Me, still with my mouth half open, approach and see the little bugs starting to crawl on him so I know he has passed on.
I shared my experience on Facebook as I didn’t know what to make of it, and one of my friends, Patrice, mentioned that squirrels know when they are ready to die and choose how this will happen. That made sense to me considering the outgrowth on his body. Still though uncertain whether he wanted the human company as well.
A couple of reflections from that day which still permeate my awareness are a) the privilege of witnessing an animal’s passing, whether voluntarily or not. I am more used to being with cats and dogs when they pass, but with a “wild” animal it is a different thing. You cannot necessarily pet them and hold them, but you can definitely “hold space” for them. And, b) how little things like this shake daily awareness; i.e. the assumption that “squirrels don’t fall from a tree”. Well, apparently they do, so how many other things do I assume are x when they can at any moment prove to be not so?
Something to ponder on…